A local volunteer will be donning the same orange T-shirt for at least three days next month, in a bid to raise awareness and start conversations about homelessness in the ACT and around the country. Hilary Thomson will be taking part in the Sudsy Challenge, an initiative from Orange Sky Laundry – a mobile laundry and shower service for people experiencing homelessness – where she volunteers in ‘Frosty’ the van.
The challenge encourages participants to “keep their kit on” for three consecutive days, and Ms Thomson will be participating alongside fellow volunteers as part of ‘Team Frosty’. Once participants raise $24, they will be sent an orange T-shirt to help start conversations about homelessness.
“By wearing that shirt for those three days – we actually plan to wear them longer – I’m hoping that that will spark many conversations about homelessness and what Orange Sky does, which I’m very passionate about,” Ms Thomson said.
She’s been volunteering with Orange Sky for around three-and-a-half years and said the “real magic happens” with the six chairs put out for each shift, where volunteers can have “genuine conversation” with people while they use Orange Sky’s services.
“Seeing the power of a simple conversation and feeling connected and part of a community can have such an impact on our friends on the street,” Ms Thomson said.
“It’s certainly highlighted the misconceptions around homelessness, and for me I now have a greater understanding for reasons to homelessness and there are so many different reasons.”
Orange Sky was founded in 2014 by young Brisbane duo, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, and is the world’s first free mobile laundry and shower service for people experiencing homelessness. Orange Sky has washed over 1.4 million tonnes of laundry since its launch, and volunteers have engaged in over 240,000 hours of conversation with people across the country.
“The Sudsy Challenge is a tribute to ‘Sudsy,’ the van that brought Orange Sky to life – it took us three days and three sets of broken washing machines and dryers to get Sudsy up and running,” Mr Marchesi said.
“Our first shift with Sudsy taught us that while clean clothes are important, it is the conversation and connection that matters most.”
The Sudsy Challenge has already kicked off around Australia, and Team Frosty will be taking on the challenge from 2 to 4 October.
For more information or to donate, visit The Sudsy Challenge website.